Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

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leady
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby leady » Tue Dec 16, 2014 12:27 pm UTC

Hes relaying the Molyneux argument from the latest video.

That reality is reality and not the matrix or variant
That logically contradictory things are invalidated
Then worry about empiricism

the fire & ice example is pretty bad, but something like a particle that is both a fermion and a boson is ok so long as your definitions hold

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TheGrammarBolshevik
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:32 pm UTC

Ah, well there's your problem. Molyneux.
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morriswalters
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:14 pm UTC

Since when did fire and ice become opposites?

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CorruptUser
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Dec 17, 2014 1:05 am UTC

Around D&D 3.5e.

Autolykos
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby Autolykos » Thu Dec 18, 2014 10:18 am UTC

As anyone here who reads the references on What If? should know, setting ice on fire is very much possible. It just needs a bit of a nudge: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ja00893a004

Cradarc
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby Cradarc » Sun Dec 21, 2014 1:36 am UTC

What is a proof?
http://www.ditext.com/carroll/tortoise.html
Every proof must eventually reach a point where the proof-writer and the person requesting the proof agree.

So to answer the question, "Can one prove a being doesn't exist?", I must know who I'm trying to prove it to:
If the person is extremely stubborn and/or skeptical, the answer would be "no".
If the person is biased towards believing the statement is true, then most likely "yes".
If the person is biased towards the statement is false, then most likely "no".
If the person shares the same intuition as I and I believe the being doesn't exist, then "yes".
If the person shares the same intuition as I and I believe the being exists, then "no".

The last two cases are interesting, because they are, in my opinion, what allows science and mathematics to flourish.
We all share some very fundamental beliefs that just aren't justified. These beliefs can change depending on how we react to experiences and observations. More often than not, these beliefs change in a similar way.
We noticed this and eventually created a system out of it. Using this system we can build common beliefs without actually checking it is indeed common. We each trust what makes sense for another person would make sense for us if we were given the same experiences and observations. Thus we incorporate any changes in the other person's belief system into our own.

In the case of philosophical questions, everyone has their own experiences and observations. There is no system of mutual trust on which we can fall back on. Either we both believe the same thing or we don't. If I trust you are right and you trust I am right, we would still be in disagreement!
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TheGrammarBolshevik
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:51 pm UTC

I don't think it's right to relativize proof to the person demanding it. I have seen people deny, for example, that the first incompleteness theorem or the uncountability of the reals has been proved. When you walk them through the proof, they always come up with some nonsensical objection to one of the steps. But this doesn't mean that "for them" those theorems haven't been proved. It just means that they're arrogant jerks who wouldn't know a proof if it bit them in the tuchas.

Cradarc wrote:In the case of philosophical questions, everyone has their own experiences and observations. There is no system of mutual trust on which we can fall back on. Either we both believe the same thing or we don't. If I trust you are right and you trust I am right, we would still be in disagreement!

I don't think it's right to say this. Lots of philosophical views have become popular because philosophers, even those who previously thought otherwise, were persuaded by arguments from "systems of mutual trust" - objections to the descriptivist theory of names and the idea that knowledge is justified, true belief seem like good examples.

Perhaps one thing we can say about philosophical arguments is that it is often difficult to say, when confronted with conflicting intuitions, which ones ought to win the day. Some philosophers are convinced that moral nihilism is wrong, since it entails that it isn't wrong to hurt people for fun. Others are convinced that it isn't wrong to hurt others for fun, since the arguments for moral nihilism are so strong. Scientists also have to make decisions about where to push on the data and where to pull on the theory (Are we radically wrong about physics, or did I calibrate my telescope wrong? Are we radically wrong about physics, or have we just not discovered Neptune yet?), but I get the sense that there tends to be less controversy in other fields about where to push and where to pull.
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KrytenKoro
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Jan 07, 2015 1:33 am UTC

Cres wrote:Which, conveniently, is the conception of God endorsed by all major monotheistic religions, and all of their sophisticated apologists.

Not really.

Most major religions don't define omnibenevolence in the specific way that the Problem of Evil does specifically because they're not all kindergartners.

Protip: someone getting a different answer than you doesn't necessarily mean they completely failed to ask themselves the obvious questions.
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Cres
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby Cres » Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:47 am UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:
Cres wrote:Which, conveniently, is the conception of God endorsed by all major monotheistic religions, and all of their sophisticated apologists.

Not really.

Most major religions don't define omnibenevolence in the specific way that the Problem of Evil does specifically because they're not all kindergartners.

Protip: someone getting a different answer than you doesn't necessarily mean they completely failed to ask themselves the obvious questions.


If only 'kindergartners' could take omnibenevolence seriously, why have some of the leading theist philosophers of religion (Plantinga, Swinburne and van Inwagen, for example) devoted significant proportions of their career to writing book-length theodicies aimed at defending a conception of God including exactly that property?

elasto
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby elasto » Sat Jan 10, 2015 12:57 pm UTC

Cres wrote:If only 'kindergartners' could take omnibenevolence seriously, why have some of the leading theist philosophers of religion (Plantinga, Swinburne and van Inwagen, for example) devoted significant proportions of their career to writing book-length theodicies aimed at defending a conception of God including exactly that property?

Probably a combination of wishful thinking and the fact that writing such books pays the bills. Even so, their arguments are probably more nuanced than you are making out.

It's plainly obvious that free will and a 'totalitarian' omnibenevolence are contradictory forces - and the God of the Bible makes no attempt to obfuscate the fact that free will is the principle he believes in the strongest.

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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby PeteP » Sat Jan 10, 2015 2:18 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Cres wrote:If only 'kindergartners' could take omnibenevolence seriously, why have some of the leading theist philosophers of religion (Plantinga, Swinburne and van Inwagen, for example) devoted significant proportions of their career to writing book-length theodicies aimed at defending a conception of God including exactly that property?

Probably a combination of wishful thinking and the fact that writing such books pays the bills. Even so, their arguments are probably more nuanced than you are making out.

It's plainly obvious that free will and a 'totalitarian' omnibenevolence are contradictory forces - and the God of the Bible makes no attempt to obfuscate the fact that free will is the principle he believes in the strongest.

The source of this digression was the Problem of evil right? That argument doesn't require any violation of free will. A triple omni being can do much without violating free will. And for a creator God who is triple omni it's a choice that violence for instance is even possible. If our inability to fly or go through wall doesn't violate free will then creating humans with the durability of superman but not the strength doesn't violate it either. (Just making everyone invulnerable isn't exactly perfect either, but my point is someone omnipotent has many options.)
I don't know which kind of definition of omnibenevolence KrytenKoro is talking about that makes the argument not work, but the limitations of free will aren't enough.

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duckshirt
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby duckshirt » Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:03 pm UTC

Cres wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:
Cres wrote:Which, conveniently, is the conception of God endorsed by all major monotheistic religions, and all of their sophisticated apologists.

Not really.

Most major religions don't define omnibenevolence in the specific way that the Problem of Evil does specifically because they're not all kindergartners.

Protip: someone getting a different answer than you doesn't necessarily mean they completely failed to ask themselves the obvious questions.


If only 'kindergartners' could take omnibenevolence seriously,

He did not say that... start over.
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Cradarc
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby Cradarc » Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:04 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:When you walk them through the proof, they always come up with some nonsensical objection to one of the steps. But this doesn't mean that "for them" those theorems haven't been proved. It just means that they're arrogant jerks who wouldn't know a proof if it bit them in the tuchas.

Says you! :P

The theorem was "proven" because most people agree the proof makes sense. You being part of that group, have decided the objections don't make sense.
Suppose you were the only one who felt the proof made sense and everyone else is making those "nonsensical objections". Who is right then? Everybody is just an arrogant jerk and only you are objective?

For most practical things, humans all share a large basis of "common intuition" (ex. If A = B, A = B); however there are certain subjects that fall outside the scope of those intuitions.
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Sun Jan 11, 2015 1:31 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:Suppose you were the only one who felt the proof made sense and everyone else is making those "nonsensical objections". Who is right then? Everybody is just an arrogant jerk and only you are objective?

Well, yes, because that is what "objective" means.

If everyone disagreed with me, that might be good evidence that I'm wrong. But people could not magically make a proof into a not-proof just by coming to believe silly things.

In the same way, it might be good evidence that the universe is only 6,000 years old if cosmologists all started believing that. But that doesn't mean that scientists could change the age of the earth just by changing their minds. If they did all start believing that the earth is 6,000 years old, then, yes, they would be very silly. And the people who disagreed with them, however few, would be right.
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Cres
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby Cres » Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:52 pm UTC

duckshirt wrote:
Cres wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:
Cres wrote:Which, conveniently, is the conception of God endorsed by all major monotheistic religions, and all of their sophisticated apologists.

Not really.

Most major religions don't define omnibenevolence in the specific way that the Problem of Evil does specifically because they're not all kindergartners.

Protip: someone getting a different answer than you doesn't necessarily mean they completely failed to ask themselves the obvious questions.


If only 'kindergartners' could take omnibenevolence seriously,

He did not say that... start over.


To spell it out for you, my point is that the best responses to the PoE generally do not involve challenging the definition of omnibenevolence, which is relatively uncontroversial (if there are any persuasive theodicies that involve disputing the definition, then I would be interested to hear about them). Instead, it is typically done by attacking the validity of the argument by introducing the idea of 'necessary evils', so that the existence of a triple omni deity no longer implies the absence of all evil.

KrytenKoro
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Re: Can one prove a being doesn't exist?

Postby KrytenKoro » Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:57 pm UTC

Cres wrote:
duckshirt wrote:
Cres wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:
Cres wrote:Which, conveniently, is the conception of God endorsed by all major monotheistic religions, and all of their sophisticated apologists.

Not really.

Most major religions don't define omnibenevolence in the specific way that the Problem of Evil does specifically because they're not all kindergartners.

Protip: someone getting a different answer than you doesn't necessarily mean they completely failed to ask themselves the obvious questions.


If only 'kindergartners' could take omnibenevolence seriously,

He did not say that... start over.


To spell it out for you, my point is that the best responses to the PoE generally do not involve challenging the definition of omnibenevolence, which is relatively uncontroversial (if there are any persuasive theodicies that involve disputing the definition, then I would be interested to hear about them). Instead, it is typically done by attacking the validity of the argument by introducing the idea of 'necessary evils', so that the existence of a triple omni deity no longer implies the absence of all evil.

I would be interested in seeing those, but it seems to me that positing "necessary evils" that omnibenevolence is not compelled to eliminate all forms of would in fact be using a different definition of omnibenevolence.
From the elegant yelling of this compelling dispute comes the ghastly suspicion my opposition's a fruit.


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